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Location: Home arrow Library of Articles arrow Articles arrow Recognise God's Light Within All

Recognise God's Light Within All   E-mail 
The Futility of Caste Identification

"Recognise God?s light within all,
And do not enquire of their caste.
In the next world, there is no caste.

                              - Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, in his love, saw no difference between human beings and fused all of us in one creed of devotion, service and sacrifice - in an age when common men were killed for even drawing water from the same well as that of the higher castes. The lower castes were beaten to death if they as much as touched the kitchen utensils of a Brahmin.

Once, a Kalal or a wine distiller, came to the court of the Guru and stood at a distance, for the caste of the Kalals was considered low in the social hierarchy.

When Guru Gobind Singh Ji saw him, he said, "Come in, O brother, and sit with all of us in the tent". The man quivered, hesitated and said, "How can I, the lowliest of the low, sit in the assembly of the holy? Guru ji, I am a Kalal whose mere sight pollutes". On hearing this, Guru ji instructed his musicians and bards to welcome the man with music and hymns; and coming down from the couch to bless him, he said, "You are not a Kalal, but a ?Guru ka lal? (A ruby of the Guru)". He then embraced the poor man and welcomed him into the congregation.

In terms of caste, it might be appropriate to say that the Gurus? concept of society was one in which the four varnas, four ashramas, and four dharmas of Hinduism were replaced by a single varna of humanity which exceeded the boundaries of religion. A man was to be honoured, not because he belonged to this or that caste or creed, but because he was a man, an emanation from God, who had given him the same senses and the same soul as other men.

The message of the Gurus has not been adopted totally in practice for a number of reasons but it is probably true to say that the system is weaker in the Punjab, especially among Sikhs, than in other parts of India. Outside India, it sometimes manifests itself in the form of Gurdwaras which are open to any worshippers but whose committees are dominated by one group.

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